Cultural interaction, spelled out in scrabble tiles, surrounded by objects representing many of the cultures of Aotearoa.

The Treaty of Waitangi was an agreement between Māori rangatira and representatives of the British Crown, intended to form the basis of a new relationship.

The agreement outlined a sharing of power, with different roles and spheres of influence. Rangatira were to retain their authority over their hapū and territories; Hobson was given authority to govern or rule over Pākehā. Māori tino rangatiratanga (absolute power and authority) was guaranteed.

It didn’t take long for the British to impose a different balance of power, one that gave precedence to British ways of thinking and being. This shift in power has shaped the way different cultures interact in Aotearoa, including the ways that culture and heritage are sustained.

Key question: What would Aotearoa be like if all New Zealanders embraced the concept of being a multicultural country underpinned by bicultural foundations?

The social inquiry focus of this resource is considering responses and decisions.

Achievement objectives

Understand how early Polynesian and British migrations to New Zealand have continuing significance for tangata whenua and communities (Social sciences, level 3)

Understand how people pass on and sustain culture and heritage for different reasons and that this has consequences for people (Social sciences, level 4)

Understand how cultural interaction impacts on cultures and societies (Social sciences, Level 5)

Understand how the Treaty is responded to differently by people in different times and places (Social sciences, Level 5)

Key conceptual understandings

Stories about places sustain culture and heritage.

Cultural interaction involves power relationships that impact on communities and societies.

People have responded differently to The Treaty of Waitangi, which was intended to formalise a relationship between Māori and the Crown.

Key concepts: cultural interaction, sustaining heritage, impact, responses, tangata whenua


In this resource, these conceptual understandings are explored using the context of place, with a particular focus on place names and collective stories as a way of sustaining culture and heritage. The resource supports students to understand that the dominant culture in Aotearoa impacts on Māori culture and on Aotearoa society as a whole.

Background information for teachers Information about the context of the Cultural Interaction resource and on key concepts related to the inquiry.
Students completing an activity.
Social inquiry activities Take your students through the social inquiry process with these activities.
Cross-curricular – English Poems related to cultural interaction.
Considering responses – teacher support Additional support material for the considering decisions and responses component of the social inquiry process.
Visual thinking resources An example of visual language texts that can be used within the social inquiry process.
Concepts Sample definitions of concepts related to cultural interaction in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Change makers – The Whanganui River Explore the impact of a long struggle for the mana of the Whanganui River to be recognised.
Working on a computer to find those excellent links.
Cultural interaction links Links to webpages, documents, video clips, and other resources that can be used to support social inquiry into cultural interaction.